How to Teaching Car Buying

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Our next topic in the Consumer Math Blog Series is about how to teach Car Buying. Read more about why and how you can teach Car Buying using my Buy a Car Lesson Unit (click here to get your copy).

Purpose of Teaching Car Buying

If your students are in high school or have friends or siblings who drive, then I can about guarantee that you have heard about how they want to get their driver’s license and buy a car.

Key-Must-Teach Concepts

Saving is cheaper than loaning. Yes, it will be hard to wait and yes, it may take awhile to save the money to buy the car you want, but it will be cheaper in the end. This is true for saving for ALL purchases rather than taking out a loan.
Insurance, Gas, and Maintenance are required extras. No, the person selling you the car won’t disclose that these additional costs will add up, you are just expected to know it. Be real, open, and as transparent as you can be. I had no idea how much insurance and gas cost when I first got a car and my father was a mechanic, so assume that they don’t know either!

Buy a Car Lesson Unit


Lesson Objective

Calculate the monthly cost of purchasing a car on loan or with saved funds.

Lesson Unit Break Down

Day 1- Per usual, start off with the visual flow chart and throw out the brain teaser! You may even get a student to get semi close to the right answer! Then, dive into the reading and use the suggestion below to expand on the topics. Then, students should complete the writing prompts and T/F questions. Feel free to review any T/F questions that were answered incorrectly by a majority of your students.
Day 2- Day 2 is consistently consumed by notes and it’s for good reason. Start by introducing the general information about buying a car in the Notes pages and then move to more detailed information in the Parts worksheet (pictured below).
Day 3- Today is about getting real! The activity takes the students through the cost of buying a car using a loan vs. paying cash. You may get some wide eyes after today’s worksheet is complete. Feel free to debrief before the end of class about their thoughts and what did/did not shock them.
Day 4- Independent practice has students go through the whole process of finding a car, calculating how to save, calculating the cost of a loan, and the final money cost after the purchase. Students will need the internet and a calculator for this activity!
Day 5- Wrap everything up with a task card review, see my Task Card Idea below, then assess their skills with the ‘test.’ Then, offer up the word search and review the functional math skills. Case closed!

Buy a Car Lesson Unit


Reading Passage Option

The reading passage nicely outlines the responsibilities of owning a car. Take that learning to the next level by breaking the class into three groups and have them further explain what might be included in each responsibility. If some of them drive, then this will help to further the discussion and make the learning even more real.

Listen and Learn

A Listen & Learn is a short, 5 sentence PowerPoint/Google presentation that introduces the topic using visuals and audio. Ideal for non-readers! Read about what they are and how they might be right for your classroom here.  

Task Card Idea

This is a great idea to do while seated, if you want a quicker task card review (you don’t even need answer sheets). While projecting one card one at a time, give 30 seconds to read and decide the right answer. Then say ‘Raise your hands!’ and students should point to the side of the classroom wall with the right answer (i.e.- if the answer on the left is correct then students should point to the left wall and vice versa).

Buy a Car Lesson Unit


Further Practice Idea

If you frequent the community often, then I would take a quick drive through of a nearby dealership and slowly peak at the cars and prices. Then, once you are back in your classroom I would research those same cars on the dealership's website, check the specs, find the cost, and see the interiors (if they have those pictures available). This drive by can be very exciting at the start, but can be very grounding once you see the cost of the cars you saw in person.

Ultimate Goal of the Lesson Unit

The goal of this lesson is to help expand the mind of the students to see owning a car as a multi-level responsibility. Having the car isn’t the only ‘thing,’ it comes with many other demands that are almost as important as buying the car itself. Helping students to see the scope of this ‘wish/want/need’ is what should be the driving force of this lesson.

Buy a Car Lesson Unit


May I Also Suggest Teaching

Two key parts of this lesson include saving money, purchasing within a budget, and paying the required monthly bills associated with owning a car. So, some obvious lessons you could pair with Buying a Car are- Budget, Paying Bills, Insurance, Savings Account, and Loan/Credit Card.

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